Psyonix reveals how it adapted the iconic car to fit its multiplayer game
Rocket League’s 1980s-themed event, Radical Summer, is in full swing! With celebrations already having focused on ’80s blockbusters and culture, we’re ready to close out our big seasonal event with a righteous ode to Television from the decade.
Leading that celebration is none other than K.I.T.T.: the high-speed, talking, futuristic car outfitted with high-tech gadgets and a personality of its own from the classic 1980s show, Knight Rider.
The Knight Rider Car Pack, which is available now, includes the K.I.T.T Battle-Car, K.I.T.T. Wheels, and the K.I.T.T. Gullwing steering wheel Topper. This shadowy flight may seem like an easy inclusion for an ’80s event, but K.I.T.T. was close to Rocket League’s assembly line all the way back during the game’s infancy. According to Jeremy Dunham, Vice President of Publishing at Psyonix, having K.I.T.T. speed around the pitch was always one of the team’s goals.
“We were talking about bringing Knight Rider to Rocket League as early as our first few months of release,” said Jeremy. “We started talking to the Universal Games team about Back to the Future’s DeLorean Time Machine in the summer of 2015 to try to bring that vehicle to the game, and we sparked the conversation about K.I.T.T. at that same time.
The only problem was that our resources back then were much smaller than they are now. Plus, our turnaround time on projects was very short, and we didn’t know (yet) how successful a licensed DLC pack would be. Once Rocket League became such a big hit, and the DeLorean Time Machine did so well, the list of famous cars that fans and partners wanted to see in the game really took off.”
Today, there are more than a dozen licensed vehicles featured in Rocket League, but having them is not as easy as simply copying and pasting pre-made art that magically comes to life.
Any new Battle-Car, even one that is inspired by a show or movie, has to be made from the ground up. There are a couple of key features that have to be considered: a Battle-Car’s rear rocket booster and team colour. Making those considerations for a vehicle such as K.I.T.T.—which is traditionally all black and doesn’t have a rocket booster—is no easy task. A task that falls into the hands of Psyonix Art Director, Jason Rowells, and his team of artists.
“We came up with multiple concepts internally,” Jason recalls. “The challenge was including team colours, but we didn’t want those team colours ruining the feel and vibe of [K.I.T.T.], which is so recognisable. Keeping that classic feel was the top priority.
What we came up with showed through as the final product: a subtle colour strip on the bottom of the car to signify a player’s team—that was it. As for the boost, we came up with an alternating, horizontal boost that aligns with the famous flashing lights of the car’s front end.”
Having a car that is as recognizable as K.I.T.T is a major part of the appeal of Radical Summer. Featuring nearly a dozen IPs, the event is designed to be a celebration of all entertainment from the decade. Even though that entertainment may be before the time of some of Rocket League’s younger players, Jeremy says the art and style of the decade can still appeal to the younger crowd.
“We know that our audience loves sports cars, and this is one of the most iconic sports cars from the last 40 years. What makes K.I.T.T. cool for Rocket League is that you don’t necessarily have to know it to enjoy it. You can just like how it looks and feels, and how it represents you in a way that you can get excited about. Those are the things we strive for in Rocket League—that right combination of car aesthetics and customization options that give players the feeling that you can be ‘you’ out there.”
For more behind-the-scenes talk about Rocket League and Radical Summer, check out the roundtable conversation with Jeremy, Jason, and Game Director, Scott Rudi, from the E3 Coliseum roundtable hosted by Kinda Funny Games’ Greg Miller.
Play Rocket League’s Radical Summer now until 12th August, where you can jump into Online Matches to earn Cassettes, which can then be redeemed for ’80s-inspired items from the game’s Event Store. You can even play our new, limited-time Beach Ball mode!